Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Failure is an Option

I am waiting for a waiver to serve in a combat zone over 60.  This waiver, unlike the one to extend my enlistment, must be approved in Washington.  It could fail.

But as of last night my wife is more at peace about the deployment--whichever way the waiver  decision goes.  

Last night her biggest worry for the deployment left our house in handcuffs.  The 15-year-old boy we took in our house in April became more and more angry over the last two weeks and finally became so enraged over being caught in a lie that he had a fit that included breaking things with a hammer and threatening himself and the rest of our family.

He had a troubled past, but we were assured by his social worker in Lehigh Valley that he simply had bad breaks.  My wife and I thought we would try to give him the "forever home" he said he wanted.  

But a forever home has rules and it is tough to give up what we know for something else--even if it is better.  C.S. Lewis says that after a religious conversion the convert will often find his former desires fill his mind.  And even if the convert manages to keep the desires from taking over, the voice of desire inside "will be up on an elbow. . .whining."  

Failure is an option in taking a child into a family--whether by adoption or birth.  C.S. Lewis writes in another place (in the 1940s before TV) about how difficult it is to convince a child in poverty in the city to give up playing in a puddle in the slums to travel to the sea shore.  We were not able to convince our new son that living as part of a family was actually better than the life he left in foster care--20 different foster homes.

Failure is an option in the military.  Not all military missions succeed.  

Failure is an option in bicycle racing.  Over the last decade I have lost 20 bicycle races for each victory.  

Failure is an option in running races.  I won just one running race in my life and in that I won my age group.  

Today we will receive a stack of paperwork that must be resubmitted to the Haitian embassy for another child we are hoping to adopt.  We are very sure he will do well in America, but we have much less confidence in our ability to navigate the paperwork through the Haitian system.  Failure is an option here also.

Tonight my wife and I are going out to dinner to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  We have three grown daughters who are doing very well and three more kids at home who seem on track to do well also.  We both know that risk can mean reward and that risk can mean failure.   

We will be taking more risks together and separately--and moving forward with our very complicated and interesting lives.

The Philosopher of War and Terror and Politics: Hannah Arendt

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